Discussion sheds light on local fraud issues

MARQUETTE- Range Bank in conjunction with the Marquette City Police Department hosted a fraud discussion for local business representatives Wednesday night to encourage communicating with each other.

The discussion started off with police Det. Mike Kohler and Det. Sgt. Steve Snowaert etting local businesses know that there have been a lot of counterfeit bills circulating in the area and have found them to mostly be $20 and $50 bills.

“All you have to do is pay a little more attention and really feel the bills between your fingers to tell if it is real,” Kohler said. “We’ve already had one instance where if the cashier would have just flipped the bills over they would have seen that one of the $20 bill they received was fake because it was a blank piece of paper on the back side.”

After talking about the counterfeit bills, Kohler discussed counterfeit checks. He said it’s really difficult to tell if a check is counterfeit or not, but a way to help prevent counterfeit checks is either by not accepting checks or by asking to see identification.

“We don’t currently know how these people are counterfeiting the checks,” Kohler said. “What we do know is somehow they are not only getting the information, but the checks have the same design as well.”

When it comes to debit and credit cards, Snowaert said the problem is data breaches. He said if a credit card machine or computer is not up to date, security becomes weak and breaches can be made.

“We don’t always update when we should and that’s one thing that I would stress, that your machines and your computers are up to date and that you run your security features all the time and keep them up to date,” Snowaert said.

He also said to make sure to change any default passwords that may be on the computer because criminals know those and will try those passwords first to breach the system. Snowaert also recommended that businesses make sure they have adequate firewalls.

“It’s a layered security approach in that it’s not just one step, but that there’s several steps that someone would have to get through to get into your system,” he said.

According to Kohler, what is happening is that the thieves are putting a virus into the systems, so that every time a card is swiped is stores the card information in a folder remotely before the machine has time to encrypt it.

“They are then taking this information, printing it on blank cards, selling them off and the people who buy them go to places like Walmart and purchase a gift card at a self check-out, that way the money can’t be traced,” he said.

Kohler said if any business believes fraud occurring at their place or if they find that there has been a breach, that business should contact him as soon as possible so they can get it under control. He can be contacted at 228-0400.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is awhitefoot@miningjournal.net.